Like anything in the bicycle world, you can spend a lot of money to obtain the best helmets on the market. Fortunately, you can still get a great helmet with advanced protection without emptying your wallet. The new Specialized Align II is proof of that concept.
Even though this helmet would be considered “budget-friendly”, it still offers an impressive level of detail. Built with 14 vents, the 4th Dimension Cooling system has even been lab-tested in the Specialized Win Tunnel to ensure excellent ventilation.
While the vents aren’t quite as large as those on more expensive helmets, it still offers that signature look of modern Specialized helmets with the smiling air scoop right at the front of the helmet and clean lines.
Branding has been kept to a minimum for a clean aesthetic, and there are black-reflective decals and reflective webbing for increased visibility in low light conditions.
Available in three different shell sizes, additional fit adjustments can be made through the Headset SX dial fit system. When it comes to the actual fit of the helmet, the sizing is listed a bit different than higher-end Specialized helmets with S/M, M/L, and XL as the sizes. Going by the ‘CM’ recommendations, I would be a S/M at 55cm. However, I usually wear a 7 1/4″ hat which puts me in the M/L camp. It turns out that I should have gone with the larger size since the S/M doesn’t work well with the top/back of my head. It almost fits, but the larger size would be needed. Usually, I wear a medium Ambush or Prevail II for reference.
One of the biggest selling points is the addition of MIPS (Multi-Directional Impact Protection System) at the $50 price point. It’s awesome to see MIPS dropping to more approachable price points – the MIPS liner at this level might not be quite as sleek as more expensive helmets, but every MIPS liner has to offer the same 10-15mm movement in all directions to be approved. This movement that happens in milliseconds of impact is what’s said to reduce the amount of rotational forces transmitted to your brain making for a potentially safer helmet.
On the Align II, the Headset SX fit system makes a complete loop around the head, and the MIPS liner is then attached to the fit system. There is no vertical adjustment for the Headset SX system, but the one-handed micro-dial makes it easy to dial in the fit.
The straps are a simple affair with Specialized’ Tri-Fix web splitter and a standard buckle. Note that this means that the ear cradles are not adjustable, but the chinstrap is.
Built with the typical in-molded construction of quality bicycle helmets, this S/M Align II checks in at 348g – which is lighter than the 355g claimed on the helmet sticker.
Offered in seven different colors and all priced at just $50, the Align II seems like a great option for those looking for a stylish MIPS-equipped helmet, at an approachable price. Available now.